Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I will not eat green eggs and ham

Yesterday, in my usual frenzied mad dash out of the house in attempt to get to work on time, the doorbell rang. I was cutting pineapple slices to toss into vanilla yogurt as part of my dinner and seriously considered not answering it.

But unlike the last time a visitor came to the door, I was dressed. A few days ago, on one of my typical weekdays off, Toby and I commandeered the couch for a mid-afternoon girly movie marathon. Knowing I had no place to be, I embraced it and lounged around in my pajamas, topped off with my gigantic fluffy pink robe.

When the doorbell rang, Toby went crazy, as usual, and I tried slinking under the blanket, willing the person to just go away. Especially if it was that crazy Jehovah's Witness lady who is stalking our house and leaving angry pamphlets in our door telling us how the Bible is full of LIES. Jerry practically invited her over for Christmas once because she's good at what she does, but now that I've slapped him over the head with her phone book-sized religious-toting information packets, I think he understands that despite her ability to use words like "God" and "heaven," she's pure evil, if not the direct spawn of Satan.

But as I was willing away this incessantly persistent doorbell ringer, I eventually realized that our front door has a window. And as I bravely peeked out from underneath the blanket to see if I could determine who it is, I stared eye-to-eye with him.

Shit. I forgot windows go both ways.

So, this unknown guy had seen me. The jig was up. I was clearly trying to avoid him and he knew it. Reluctantly and a bit embarrassed, I got off the couch, picked Toby up and answered the door with my crazy disheveled hair and pink fluffy robe.

"Um, hey," I said, hoping that I'd wake up any minute and it would all be a bad dream.

He looked as awkward as I felt.

"Hi. I'm, uh, here to read your gas meter."

"Right. C'mon in," I said. "It's down in the basement."

As I led him to the door, part of me felt like feigning a cough or a sneeze. Or even saying something like, "Yeah, called in sick today." But then I realized that it's this guy's job to interrupt people at home. I'm sure he's seen far worse. So I worked my full-length pink fluffy robe. Whatever. I even plopped myself back on the couch and waved him off as he left, making a mental note to call in the meter reading next month.

But on this most recent doorbell assault, I was dressed and ready. I looked presentable. I didn't have to hide in plain sight. Plus, Toby was outside playing in the snow, so I didn't have to worry about him and his crazy freak-out episodes anytime we open the front door.

Wiping my hands on a towel to get off the pineapple juice on the way, I looked out the door window to see a kid with a shovel. He was maybe 12 or 13.

"Hi," I said.

"Would you like your sidewalk shoveled?" he asked, oh-so politely.

"Oh, that's really kind of you to offer, but my husband will get to it when he gets home soon. Thank you, though."

"Are you sure?"

And here's where I started to feel guilty. I know this kid was doing it to make a little cash. I'm sure it's hard to make money at his age. He's not old enough to get a part-time job and probably doesn't want to babysit. I get it. But my wallet is full of tumbleweeds and I'm pretty sure he doesn't accept credit, so I thanked him again and closed the door feeling like a horrible, horrible person. A horrible person who shoos away religion and little boys offering to shovel.

Who knows? Next I might dismiss a basket of homeless puppies.

So that's it. I'm not answering the door anymore. Not for religious-toting freaks, not for gas company employees, not for little boys with shovels, not for anyone. Not at the front door, not at the back. Not with a mouse, not in my house.

I will not eat green eggs and ham.

Or, uh, answer the door. Ever.

Whatever.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm a boob

I'm still completely mental. Writing and talking about my baby craziness didn't help as well as I thought it would. And now, just because Jerry and I had sex during my ovulation "window," I think I'm pregnant.

Never mind that the odds of that being true are next to nothing. In fact, it's about 20 percent. Actually, it might be a little less than that because I'm over 25.

I know all this because I'm crazy and keep researching random pregnancy facts online.

The odds are pretty good over a year. It increases to almost 80 or 90 percent. But if I have to go through this agony of thinking that I'm pregnant for an entire year? Not to mention treating my body like I am just in case I am? My brain will burst.

I have nothing to back up my notion other than the memories of what it was like last time. Before I actually knew, I only remember admiring my slightly larger boobs and feeling tired, but that's about it.

So now, with a few days left to go until I should (and will) get my period, I'm manhandling my boobs like a teenage boy who just got access to his first pair. I swear they seem bigger. Not sore, exactly, but bigger. More full.

But it's all in my head. I know it is.

The mind is a powerful thing. I think I willed my boobs bigger. And my period probably will be late because, for the first time in my entire life, I don't want it.

Then again, part of me wants the crazy battle between my head and my body to end. And if getting my period is the only thing that will stop me from feeling myself up, then so be it.

Because my boobs could probably use a break, too.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The bottom line

I'm still deciding whether I love or hate eBay. Part of me thinks it's a wonderful tool to avoid having a garage sale. Then another part of me thinks it's a complete pain in the ass.

My first attempt at selling didn't go well, exactly, but it wasn't a complete flop either. Out of six pairs of shoes, I sold two. And even though both buyers were on the west coast, I didn't get hosed on shipping and was even able to send them two-day priority mail, earning me super-bonus seller power stars feedback ... or whatever.

But, oh, the hassle.

Taking the photo. Coloring and sizing the photo. Writing a description. Uploading the photo. Setting the initial bidding price. Waiting a week. Sending an invoice. Waiting for payment. Verifying payment. Depositing payment in my checking account. Finding a box. Packaging it. Stressing over getting to the post office. Mailing it. Paying eBay fees.

After all that. THAT. I made a total of about $14.

I know, say it with me: WOOPppisser!

Yeah, I wasn't exactly thrilled with the overhead, but somewhere inside was this oh-so-freeing feeling that came with the validation of making a little money on things I no longer use. Plus, it inspired me to organize my shoe rack, and I even purged a bunch of things that I had been holding onto for sentimental value. Like the disgusting pair of Adidas flip flops that I used as shower shoes in college and now require staples to remain intact. They are easily the most foul footwear on the planet, and I finally found the willpower to toss them in the trash where they've belonged at least since the new millennium. If not longer.

Okay, so eBay can't take all the credit for that. I've been watching a crapload of "What Not To Wear" marathons on TLC lately. And although I'm confident enough to say that Stacy and Clinton would never ambush me on the street (except maybe when I'm walking Toby in my bleach-stained pajama pants), I could stand to get rid of a few things in my wardrobe that no longer flatter me.

And being the sentimental type, it's not easy getting rid of clothes. But somewhere in between mourning the decision to part with my denim button-down that I haven't worn in at least six years and purging that cute polka-dot skirt I wore once to a Christmas party a million years ago, I got ruthless. I started pulling anything that I wouldn't wear today. Right this second. If I didn't make me want to put it on and go out into the world, it got pulled.

Then this amazing thing happened. I have room in my gigantic walk-in closet to (gasp!) walk!

And now I have a heaping pile of mostly designer clothes in the spare bedroom that need to go. So I'm going to spend 70 cents to list a few of them for a ridiculously low price on eBay and try again.

If all goes well, maybe I'll make another $14.

Then I'll be THAT much closer to getting these.

And if eBay can do that for me, then it'll be my new best friend.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jerryisms

While we were our way to an Indian restaurant for lunch and an Indian family walked right in front of our car as Jerry was driving:
"I'll let you live because we're obviously going to the same place, and that makes you cool."
(Incidentally, they sat beside us.)


Pulling into a parking space and seeing a woman in a horrendously wrinkled, stained flannel shirt:
"I can see you ironed your shirt on a sewer grate this morning."


Our first few steps into a sporting-goods store:
"I hate the smell of fitness places. Smells like willpower."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

This week's newspaper column

As I sit at my desk at home trying to write, I have to concentrate to ignore the constant reminder that I'm not alone -- chewing, slobbering and the ever-so-faint odor of barbecued pig ear.

But if it wasn't for that pig ear, writing would require an entirely different level of concentration as my dog, Toby, pawed at my legs to be picked up and placed on my lap where he would turn clockwise in circles for at least 10 minutes until he found the perfect spot to collapse. Then he might decide that the floor looks fun, jump down and start the process all over again.

It has been exactly one year since my husband, Jerry, and I brought our bundle of teeth home. And as first-time dog owners, we've decided the ups far outweigh the downs, but I never knew a 10-pound ball of fur could wreak so much havoc.

Toby has come a long way since puppydom. We look back at the nights filled with 4 a.m. pee breaks and laugh. But what he gained in bladder control, he certainly hasn't lost in spunk.

When we bought a house this summer, we knew the move would be an adjustment for him, especially because we were introducing him to carpet for the first time and he still had occasional accidents. So, to protect our floors, we decided to keep him in the basement while we were at work.

He quickly let us know that it wasn’t an acceptable arrangement by ripping up the kitchen linoleum that peeked through the basement door. So much for protecting our floors.

On the other hand, when we showed him the fenced-in backyard, a look of absolute bliss spread across his face. He repaid us by taking care of the gardening -- ripping up the plants, digging ankle-breaking divots throughout the yard and eating all the cherry tomatoes.

Then there are the unexpected joys like when he runs around with one of my bras in his mouth while we have company or when he wakes us by puking in our hair or barking until our ears bleed when a TV show just happens to contain a doorbell ring.

But despite all of the missing socks, shredded tissues and an occasional destroyed shoelace, I know I wouldn't give up dog ownership for anything.

When we thought Toby escaped late one night recently, Jerry and I drove around with our windows down for hours, screaming his name until our voices became hoarse. We thought it was over. I didn't think I'd ever see him again.

I tried not to cry as I pictured him scared and alone with no one to vomit on. Or worse: Someone might decide to keep him. But would they have a cherry tomato plant? Would they have his favorite brand of shoelaces? Would their favorite TV shows have doorbell sounds?

Fortunately, when Jerry and I reconvened at the house to change into warmer clothes, I heard our dog whining. In true Toby style, he had inadvertently locked himself in a closet.

But enough reminiscing. Toby is pawing at my legs. The barbecue-flavored distraction has apparently lost its luster. It must be time to play.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Something I never thought I'd be

I've had a hard time writing lately because I'm trying to ignore the one topic I want to address. In fact, for the first time ever, I was at a complete loss as to what to write about for my newspaper column this week. I ended up putting together a humorous look at dog ownership, noting the fast-approaching one-year anniversary of the day we brought Toby home. I know they can't all be winners, but at least the dog lovers will enjoy it.

I'm sure it sounds hard to believe, but when I repress what I want to write about, my entire creativity and mood suffers. And as much as I want and need to put this out there, I can't express how difficult it is for me. It's hard to look at yourself and realize you've turned into something you never thought you'd be. Something you despised for much of your youth and young adulthood.

Needless to say, I didn't think my newspaper was the appropriate venue for that. And, frankly, I'm not sure I could've done it in 500 words or less. It seems like more of a "don't overthink it, just type" kind of topic.

So here it is: I'm baby obsessed.

I've turned into this woman whose moments of private thoughts are entirely dedicated to wanting a child. I don't know exactly how or when this happened, all I know is that I wish I could turn it off and get back to my previously perfectly happy existence where I was more than content with my husband and my dog.

Before we got married, Jerry and I talked at length about children. As confused as we were on the topic, we came to a consensus: maybe none, maybe one, maybe two, but three tops. And certainly none before we had tried out married life for awhile. We wanted to wait at least until our first anniversary, maybe second. Then assess the situation from there.

As a college student, I remember coming back from classes to find my roommates huddled around our TV watching back-to-back episodes of "A Wedding Story" and "A Baby Story." Personally, I never understood the draw. Weddings and babies weren't necessarily a part of my future. They certainly weren't a goal or a destination. But if I happened to meet the right person at the right time? I'd embrace it.

When Jerry's proposal came, I wasn't pining for it. I wasn't looking at rings in jewelry store windows or flipping through wedding magazines wondering when it was going to be my turn. I didn't feel too old to be dating. I was happy and didn't question it.

The same used to be true with having a baby. I wasn't pining for it. I wasn't drooling over babies in public places. Infant clothing stores and diaper commercials didn't even register on my radar. But if it just sort of happened? I'd embrace it.

And that's what did happen. After a serious bout of nausea and feeling like I might faint when I saw that second line show up on the EPT test, I embraced it. I pushed aside my fears and mentally prepared myself for the life-changing experience of pregnancy and motherhood.

But when fate stepped in and took that child from us, everything changed. I experienced a profound feeling of loss, and at times, even a confusing feeling of relief.

Over the days and weeks and months that followed, Jerry and I have completely changed our outlook on children. At first, he was immediately ready to start trying again. I, however, wanted my body to heal. I wanted to feel healthy again. Besides, my doctors recommended waiting at least two normal periods to ensure that my reproductive organs were functioning properly.

During that time, while I was trying to get over the loss, I noticed things I hadn't ever noticed before. I found myself looking at children's toys while I was shopping for Christmas. I paid attention to umbilical cord blood banking commercials. I found myself mentally rearranging the living room to accommodate a playpen. Newborns don't look as gross and wrinkly as they used to. Now they're borderline cute.

What the hell is wrong with me?

Jerry, however, has gone in the opposite direction. While he was the one who was ready for a baby before we even knew I was pregnant, now he wants to wait. He isn't ready to go through that kind of pain again. And I can't blame him. But somewhere in the recesses of my heart, I know it won't be the same next time. I know we'll have a healthy baby. We have to.

But I don't want the kind of relationship where I pressure my husband to have a baby. That isn't right. That's not the way it's supposed to be. I want it to be a mutual decision when the time is right for both of us.

So I swallow my feelings. I spend a lot of energy concentrating on not talking about it. And I have to work not to think about it.

Other than that, I don't know how to cope. This is a completely new realm of unfounded obsession for me. It's not like trying to quit smoking or trying to recover from alcoholism where you can talk about it openly and get the support you need. There's no such thing as Baby Obsessed Anonymous.

But maybe I don't need group therapy. Maybe I just need to talk with the one person who needs to hear this.

So a few moments ago, when Jerry walked in to kiss me goodbye and asked what I was writing about, I just burst into tears and spewed a borderline incoherent rant about how I'm completely mental.

And being the awesome and understanding guy that he is, he listened. And sat on the floor with me. And told me that that maybe the reason he's been pushing for another dog so much is because he wants to expand our family, too. And that all of it is completely normal.

I don't feel normal. But I do feel better.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The San Francisco treat

When I went to San Francisco, Jerry asked me to bring him one souvenir: a box of Rice-A-Roni signed by authentic San Franciscans. I'm pretty sure he didn't think I'd do it. But I did. And I even bought it there at a grubby grocery store and documented it for him with pictures.

P1010050
This guy was sitting down by the ocean watching street
performers. He called himself The Escape Man. Although,
I have yet to understand why exactly. He didn't explain.

P1010051
I found it very amusing that he was wearing a N.Y. shirt.

P1010054
This woman was sitting on the steps to her
apartment building with friends. She thought
the request was hilarious and even said so
with her signature on the box.

P1010062
This girl was adorable. She shrugged and
kind of giggled when I explained what I was
doing. She was working at a convenience store
with her parents who didn't speak English.

P1010064
This guy was doing his laundry. And as we
got talking, I found out he's originally from
my hometown of Rochester, N.Y. But since he
moved to S.F. 10 years ago, I figured it counted.

P1010066
And those down in the trenches of any city?
Hot dog vendors! He was a little confused by
my request, but smiled and obliged anyway.

P1012498_2
And here's the final product, which gets
star treatment in Jerry's display nook with
confetti from the Steelers trip to the Super Bowl
last year and Batista's signed WWE portrait.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Trip down memory lane

I'm not sure what triggered it, but this morning I woke up thinking about San Francisco. Maybe I was dreaming about eating Rice-A-Roni. Regardless, it reminded me of my trip to the city a few months before I started my blog. And it seemed like such a shame. So here's my humble and likely overdue attempt at recapturing the magic:

P1010061
This shot of the landmark bridge revealed itself after I
hiked my way up the biggest hill, no mountain, of my life.


P1010044
Closer to the ocean, along a lengthy pier, is Fishermans
Wharf where the odor of over-breaded fried seafood hangs
in the air attracting seagulls from the East Coast.


P1010043_2
Some of the fare at the Wharf.


P1010038_2
This structure is clearly more modern, but the rail tracks
right off into the ocean amazed me. Boats would dock and
unload entire rail cars filled with all sorts of things here.


P1010039_2
Alcatraz Island. Sadly I didn't get to tour the penitentiary,
but I've watched a lot of TV specials and movies about it.
And that has to count for something.


P1010047
Miles down the coast I came upon a little beach and huge
piers where amazing sailboats were unloading their cargo.

P1010037
I was so glad I accidentally stumbled upon a row of
colorful townhouses stacked together on a steep hill.


P1010060_2
And a trolley car. To me, it encapsulates this city's rich history.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Something brown and furry

Yesterday morning, while Jerry was getting ready to leave for work and I was munching on a bowl of cereal, he spotted two of our neighbors through the kitchen window.

"They're definitely talking about our yard," he said. "I can tell because Skip is pointing and Loreena is nodding and looking."

And, in suburbia, that's enough to pique even the slightest curiosity.

So Jerry kissed me goodbye and left vowing to "listen in."

Turns out, Skip saw a hawk swoop down and eat one of the little bunnies I keep meaning to toss our wilted lettuce and dried-out baby carrots to. Jerry and I have spotted them on numerous occasions and now that we finally have a little snow, their tracks are everywhere -- like a schitzophrenic pattern all over the lawn.

But while I was mourning the little bunny, Jerry immediately realized that Toby isn't much bigger. And that a hawk certainly might be stalking our yard for all of its potential prey.

It triggered a memory of a story I read not too long ago about a 12-year-old boy who had a hawk swoop down and try to snatch his little dog while they were on a walk. He fought back, clubbing the bird with his backpack until it let go. The dog required some stitches, but it survived.

So now the fence we had installed to enable us not to have to go outside in the winter with Toby on his frequent tiny-bladder trips is nearly pointless. We've vowed to go with him every time and we've armed the backyard with a shovel to fight off any predator from the sky.

But Jerry is obsessed. He's convinced the hawk is nesting in the three-story pine tree in our backyard, not the nearby mountains. And when he went on the air, he talked in-depth about our situation.

Apparently what ensued was a 2-hour-long calling frenzy from radio listeners of all types. One caller suggested we toss out some raw chicken breasts loaded with Alka-seltzer, long known to kill birds because their stomach can't release gas through burping. Another caller quickly reminded that it would be a federal crime because hawks are endangered.

So when Jerry screamed, "So, WHAT? What am I supposed to do? Let a hawk EAT my dog?" a few experts called in: one from the Department of Environmental Protection and another from the Wildlife Protection Agency.

They suggested everything from placing a decoy in the yard (something brown and furry, incidentally, just like our dog) to coating Toby in reflective surfaces or even attaching balloons to his collar so the hawk can't see him. I got a real kick out of that one. I picture Toby squirming and flipping out, trying to remove the balloons then finally rolling over on top of them, popping one, getting scared of the noise and trying to run from himself.

Not going to happen.

So, for now, we've committed ourselves to accompanying Toby on his trips outside armed with a shovel.

It's probably pretty good being buddies with the top of the food chain, but I guess that doesn't always protect dogs from becoming someone else's dinner. My take on the situation? Those hawks are just jealous. Jealous of all the delicious table scraps.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Three-bean bowels

At some point of dire fridge desolation, Jerry turned to the canned goods in our cupboards and found a whole slew of beans: black, white and light red kidneys. So he decided to make a ghetto three-bean salad by mixing them into a giant bowl, topping them with garlic, a little salt and pepper, and his heavily-relied-upon seasoning staple, Franks hot sauce.

Then he ate the entire thing with a fork.

And loved it.

Now, when it's his turn to go to the store, he buys cans and cans of beans to concoct his favorite makeshift meal. And, in case it wasn't already obvious where I'm going with this, the gastrointestinal symphony Jerry conducts after eating such a feast can be a little jarring. Okay, a lot jarring. Like a skunk sprayed you in the face at close range.

So one night recently while we were laying in bed talking, a wall of stench slapped me in the nostrils mid-sentence.

"OH MY GOD! You've gotta give me a little warning about something like that!"

"What do you want me to do, nod?" he asked sarcastically, laughing.

"Yes. ... Yes, a nice polite nod would be perfect."

But his SBDs stopped being so silent. They were delivered with a cute little toot more appropriate for a small child, but just as deadly as three-bean-bowels Jer.

Then, as if the sound of his butt cheeks squeezing out a live one wasn't warning enough, a very comical blank, yet satisfied look crept across his face as he nodded, his hair swooshing on his pillowcase.

"Cut it out! I heard that one! You don't need to nod when your butt takes care of the announcement for y-- ... OH MY GOD!"

And here's where we get into our regular disagreement. Jerry believes the best way to deal with a fart in bed is to trap it underneath the covers where it languishes out of nose range. But I swear I can feel the skin cells on my lower body curling up and dying. I prefer to quickly waft it out into the open, setting it free where it can mix and mingle with cleaner air particles and dilute instantly.

So what usually ends up happening is Jerry does his best to institute a lockdown on the comforter while I frantically flap whatever portion of it he can't secure. He's usually screaming, "DON'T WAFT IT! DON'T WAFT IT!" while I'm pumping my arms in a seizure-like way screaming, "SET IT FREE! SET IT FREE!"

The rest of the most recent three-bean bowels night continued in much the same way: Jerry tooting, nodding just to make me crazy, him holding down his half of the covers while I pumped my side up and down.

When we thought the worst was over, when Jerry's butt finally seemed to have gotten over the three-bean storm, we turned out the light and said goodnight.

But just as I was drifting off to sleep, trying to dream about anything other than The Bog of Eternal Stench in "The Labyrinth," I heard it.

Toot.

...

Nod.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I still say he needs to be more specific

"Wanna see Toby go crazy?"

"Sure."

"1 ... 2 ... 3 ... run!"

"... Um, Jer? ... Nothing happened."

"Why didn't you follow me up the steps?"

"Because I wanted to see Toby go crazy."

"You were supposed to follow me up the steps!"

"I thought you were running by yourself."

"Why would I need to count to three to run by myself?"

"Hmm ... good point."

Saturday, January 20, 2007

WAY better than roses on Valentine's Day

Last night, after going out to dinner with some friends, Jerry and I decided to do what we do best: change into our pajamas, crash on the couch underneath our giant down comforter and watch a movie while Toby sits between us, licking his butt with such intensity and duration that he leaves a disgusting wet spot on the blanket almost as big as he is.

We discussed the possibility of stopping at the video rental store, but decided that was too much work with the whole parking, getting out of the car, walking around looking at videos, paying, getting back in the car thing. Not to mention having to return it. Bleh.

So we took a risk that something good would be playing through our cable company's On Demand feature. Because the click of a remote is so much more reasonable.

But when we finally got settled into our butt grooves, fate stuck out its tongue at us. We got an error message saying that On Demand was down for the night. Balls.

What's worse is that is was the smoothest video selection of all time. Normally Jerry and I have a lengthy debate, each of us making a case for our respective choices -- him for his action flick, me for my romantic comedy. We usually spend so much time arguing our points that by the time we're done, we could've watched both movies.

Not this time. Jerry suggested "Pirates of the Caribbean" and it sounded good. Neither of us had seen it and I'm always up for a little Johnny Depp. Add in a dash of Orlando Bloom and I certainly won't decline. (And before you guys go shaking your head, I guarantee that somewhere in Jerry's little brain just saying the movie title aloud sparked a flicker of excitement at the thought of seeing Kierra Knightly in tattered pirate-wear. So there.)

Instead, we got the error message. And while I threw up my arms in defeat, waiving a white flag to the universe, Jerry gallantly offered to change back into a respectable outfit in order to go back out into the snow and rent it for us.

And while I praised him up and down for being my hero, I also capitalized on the fact that he would be walking through the kitchen and asked for a glass of water. With ice.

By the time he got back, I was fully invested in this week's episode of "Ugly Betty" that I hadn't gotten around to watching yet on the DVR. So, in the sweetest voice I could muster, I asked if he wouldn't mind watching the end with me.

Being awesome-tastic, he agreed.

But what happened next made me feel like a complete loser. A complete loser who was uber thankful I had made a sad attempt at Wife of the Year by washing Jerry's dirty underwear earlier that day.

Because when he popped the movie in, what I thought to be a preview trailer of "The Devil Wears Prada" turned out to be the actual movie. He had sacrificed Kierra Knightly in pirate-wear so I could watch Merryl Streep's Golden Globe-winning performance about the fashion magazine business.

Swoon.

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?! YOU GOT 'THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA'?!"

"Shh ... yes ... I think you just made my ears bleed."

"YOU ARE THE AWESOMEST!"

"Again ... bleeding."

"WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS?!"

"I knew you really wanted to see it, and you've passed it up a few times so I could watch stuff like 'Lucky Number Sleven' and 'The Illusionist,' so just enjoy it."

"Yeah but those movies were incredible. You're going to hate this!"

"We're probably halfway through the movie by now ... just watch it."

So with a heart full of appreciation for his thoughtfulness, I watched the movie version of a book I read years ago. And it was excellent. But not as excellent as Jerry.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I don't have any answers, just experience to share

My first party with alcohol was a complete shock to me. As a teen, I was a bit of a rebellious type, but not that rebellious. My form of sticking it to my parents when I was a freshman in high school came in the types of guys I dated: seniors with tattoos and bad grades. Swoon.

But secretly I was overwhelmed and wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. So when one of those guys took me to a party full of upperclassmen and kegs on a Friday night, I just about shit myself. If cell phones had been less than 30 pounds and affordable at that time, I would've been texting "wtf do i do" to my best friend.

Instead, just to be polite and not look like a complete prude, I accepted a plastic cup filled with what I now know to be cheap watery beer when it was offered to me. It was the strangest setting. There were upwards of 100 kids crammed into this tiny furnished basement filled with smiling family portraits and arrangements of fake flowers that were sure to get trashed. It was obvious someone's parents were out of town, but remnants of them were all over the place, shaking a finger at me.

I knew what beer tasted like because my parents let me try it when I was growing up. In fact, I have very distinct memories of my father drinking a beer while he was giving me and my little brother a bath every night. I always asked for a sip and he always gave it to me. And on holidays, even though I wasn't "of age," my mom would pour me a half glass of champagne so I could toast with the adults.

But I knew it was taboo. I knew I wasn't supposed to have this cup in my hand. It felt very wrong and even more scary because I was out of my element. I didn't have any close friends there and I didn't really know this guy too well, other than he had gorgeous cheekbones and a bit of an introverted, but seemingly worldly disposition.

So I just sipped. And poured most of it down the sink when I went to the bathroom.

Fortunately for me, the guy wasn't as bad as his reputation. He sensed my uneasiness and took me home before the cops showed up.

We didn't date much after that. He shot out his left eye thinking that BB gun target practice in a brick-filled basement was a good idea. And although I went with someone else to his prom, I remember saying hello and admiring that the trim of his eye patch matched his vest.

My first real experience with alcohol came in college. I had formed what I thought to be some of the tightest bonds in my entire life with three girls who lived in my dorm. One of them had an older sister who had an apartment off campus and often threw house parties. I trusted them with my clothes, my secrets and my life. They wouldn't let anything happen to me, nor I them.

Pretty soon I learned the routine. We were good students who saved drinking for weekends, unlike many of our friends who attended parties throughout the week and got kicked out after their first semester for failing to earn even a 1.0 grade point average. My friends and I, on the other hand, waited for Friday, would "pregame" with a round of vodka shots from a bottle of Absolute my friend's sister bought for us, and then walk to the party.

At the time, it seemed like a rite of passage. It seemed like fun. Everything was under control. We had a plan. We stuck together. We took care of each other.

But that all changed one night.

I remember we made it to our favorite pizza place before the 2 a.m. closing. We each grabbed a slice and inhaled it on the walk back to our dorm. But Laura couldn't keep up. She said she wasn't feeling well. Nikki nabbed Laura's pizza when she said she didn't want it.

By the time we got Laura into her room, she looked pale and sweaty. She collapsed on her bed and started vomiting everywhere. The other girls tried to convince me not to get help. They kept saying everything was under control. They told me to get water, but I didn't listen. I talked to the night hall monitor and told him what was happening. He called an ambulance.

And it likely saved my friend's life.

The rest of us got a taxi to the hospital and stayed up all night. She was admitted with acute alcohol poisoning. I was surprised there was anything left after everything she tossed up over her bed, but they pumped her stomach then pumped her veins full of fluids to rehydrate her.

It was my first introduction to the reality of alcohol. When used in excess, it's a very scary thing.

And now that I have a little perspective on my own nights of excess, I realize that alcohol and youth is a very scary combination. Teenagers, including myself at that age, have an invincible quality. Mortality and illness seem decades away.

Add in the liquid courage that is alcohol and you can do no wrong. Ask that hot brunette out at the end of the bar? No problem. Walk home by yourself? Piece of cake. Drive a car? Sure. Other people might not be able to handle their liquor, but not me. Nothing bad is going to happen.

And maybe nothing does. Maybe you get to your destination in once piece and without getting pulled over.

But after working in the newspaper business for almost seven years, I can tell you first hand that not everyone is so lucky. In fact, the most recent story in my area involving drunk driving was a horrible fatal accident. A 22-year-old guy got so disoriented that he entered a highway using an exit ramp. He continued driving the wrong way down the expressway until he careened into a minivan carrying a young family of five from Canada on their way to Florida. They were meeting their entire extended family for a Christmas vacation cruise. And, as luck would have it, only the boy survived uninjured. Weeks later, the mother and one child are still struggling for their lives in a local intensive care unit. The rest of their family died instantly.

I know that seems dramatic. I know not all instances of drunk driving results in something so horrific. But I can also tell you that even a DUI conviction can tear a family apart. Ask my brother, who after losing his license and selling his car to pay for attorney's fees, finally learned his lesson. I love my brother dearly and I'm thankful every day that he didn't face anything worse than a field sobriety test. And I'm happy to report that he now has a clean record, a new car and a better understanding of the U.S. legal system.

As for me? I know I made some bad choices in the past in relation to alcohol. I can recall waking up a few mornings where if I had owned a guillotine, I might have opted to use it. Anything to end the devistatingly painful pounding in my head -- even permanently severing it from my body. But now I enjoy alcohol for what it should be: an occasional drink when the mood strikes. If I had to give it up, I wouldn't miss it.

I know that drinking seems like a glamorous thing. Well, no wonder with all those alcohol advertisements with gorgeous people having the time of their lives. It almost makes me want to suck the last drop of Disaronno amaretto liquor off an ice cube, too.

But it comes down to limits and choices. And if I've learned one thing, there's no shame in excusing yourself to go to the bathroom and pour a beer down the sink if you're not strong enough yet to say no.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I hope that pound takes up residence in a happy cow somewhere in California

I LOST A POUND! One whole lard-filled pound. Well, maybe it was more water-filled, but I think I counted one less dimple on my left butt cheek and, like Martha Stewart would say, "That is a good thing."

The past few days haven't been easy, but I've found myself strangely drawn to exercise. To push my body just a little bit harder. To see how red I can make my face.

And, to be completely honest, it feels damn good. I had forgotten how my body reacts when I don't pump my veins full of salt and fat, mostly in the form of delicious, delicious french fries from Wendy's -- my all-time favorite edible splurge. Well, besides ice cream. And maybe chocolate. And definitely my mom's little crab appetisers. ... Okay, so the fries are my all-time favorite salty splurge.

But it's happening. After a little more than a week, I've started to form a habit. I know because when I considered bypassing my daily run yesterday, I couldn't do it. I felt too guilty. So I put on my running shoes. Then I ran farther.

And that one small change is snowballing: I'm eating better. I'm sleeping better. I feel better.

So when my reward showed up in the form of a little less mass when I stepped on my scale, I celebrated like it was 10 pounds. Because I haven't seen that scale go in the downward direction in a long, long time.

And my newly fewer-dimpled ass is inspiring Jerry, too. He recently inherited a weight set from a friend and decided to set up a mini gym in our basement. I used to be impressed that I could lift my measly 10-pound hand weights for multiple reps, but when I saw him curl 40 pounds with nothing more than a bit of an eye squint, I decided I'm a wuss. A big girly wuss who almost dropped one of those 40-pound weights when I tried to see if I could do it, too.

I can't. Not even close.

In fact, I think if I had held onto it any longer, my small intestine would've popped out of my butt.

So I'm sticking with what works for me. And if it's running for just a few minutes every day, well, I consider that a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Random nonsense that seems justifiably related somehow

P1012478
Let the record show that when my daffodils are dead
and don't come up this spring, I had nothing to do with it. This
crazy-ass 60 degree weather in January is damn confusing.


P1012475_2
This is our bacon grease glass. We only use it for,
well, bacon grease. And through all our fat-filled Sunday
mornings together, Jerry and I never had the glass pop
perfectly in half from the task. I also don't understand why
Jerry HAD to stick his fingers in it once it solidified.


P1012480
Toby has made Mr. Twizzler., a souvenir from
our trip to Hershey this summer, an amputee.
And Mr. Twizzler just smiled and took the abuse.
You served your country well, brave sir. I salute you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kusjes

This new site has already been a huge source of joy for me. I never expected everyone to make the transition, but I also never expected the large amount of you who did. And for that, I'm truly grateful.

Because over the two years that I've been doing this every day, blogging has taken on different meanings. At first I was only doing it for myself. It was a dark time in my life and I needed something to document all the little moments in between feeling like a worthless lump of unemployed garbage. It helped keep up my writing skills and showed me that there are small everyday pleasures to be found if you look for them.

Then it turned into something else. I started connecting with people. I forged friendships. My family started reading. It wasn't just about me anymore. Sure, I still treat it like a diary -- a very public and embarrassingly honest diary -- but your comments and words lift me up when I'm down, keep me laughing when I'm up and even reassure me that I'm not the only idiot who accidentally walks into the wrong bathroom at restaurants sometimes.

So it probably comes as no surprise to some of you that I've asked for a digital camcorder for my birthday next month at the expense of something much more practical. My parents generously offered to replace our death trap dishwasher as my early birthday present, but, um, I'll have a lot more fun with a camcorder. Maybe I'll even get a video of when the dishwasher decapitates me. I'm sure Jerry would post it. Because he'd know I'd want him to.

In the meantime, I want to extend my gratitude to those of you who realized that I didn't step off the side of a high rise building when I stepped off Xanga. And I know a few of you have expressed frustration that the comment feature doesn't work on occasion, but I assure you that the kinks will be eliminated in time.

So, thank you. Thank you for making this site feel fun and familiar in the course of a few weeks. Thank you for taking the time to mouse wrestle with the comment box. And here's a special thanks to everyone reading in Amersfoort, Netherlands. I'm not sure what "kusjes" means, but I imagine it means "You rock!" So KUSJES!

And one final thanks for this. I love hoodies. I really do. Almost more than air.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Wanted: Extra small trunk with no junk

I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime during the first year-plus of marriage, I decided that buying bigger pants every time my ass grew a size was an acceptable thing. Because eating another bowl of ice cream is far more enjoyable than running.

I started to notice the weight gain this summer. My clothes were a little more snug than usual. But, as usual, I put off exercise until after vacation ... after Jerry's birthday ... after all the Halloween candy is gone ... after the holiday season.

Pretty soon I had put off everything except the lard congealing around my thighs. And now it's going to take some work.

Don't get me wrong, I know I'm not obese or even fat. In fact, many of my coworkers were surprised to hear that I'd gained a whopping 18 pounds since my wedding. But knowing that someone is required BY LAW to love you no matter how many peanut butter cups you shove into your maw, is a hard realization to shake.

But I've finally had enough.

BUTT, I've FINALLY HAD ENOUGH!

So I started running again. It's been five days. Five completely horrendously miserable days. Everything hurts: my thighs, my shins, my abs, my arms ... and I'm not sure, but I think even my hair hurts a little.

And I know this is the hardest part. The first few weeks where there's all pain and no gain. The only difference you notice is in the way you feel: tired, sore and in desperate need of the comfort food you're denying yourself.

But now is when I need to stick with it most. Because otherwise I'm going to have a lot more to sell on eBay. Namely my pants.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Porch Plundering

A while back I wrote about winning a lantern at our friends' wedding. Then, a few months later, I wrote about how it was stolen off our porch. Then, a few months after that, I told Jerry in a spew of word vomit that I discovered that our good friends and neighbors who attended that same wedding with us stole the lantern as a prank.

I know because I saw it on their porch.

I never wrote about the time I stole it back. It was a springlike December afternoon, I was taking Toby on a walk and decided it was a good day to carry a big wooden lantern with decorative faux ivy leaves ten blocks back to my house. Unfortunately, a crazy yappy dog we always pass in a nearby garage decided it was a good day to attack Toby.

She charged across the street and started barking and biting, but Toby didn't have much of a chance at defense because he was attached to me on a short leash and ended up spinning around in frantic circles trying to figure out what the hell was happening. I wanted to punt that little barking ball of fluff all the way back to her owner, a surprisingly burly-looking older guy who works on cars all day, but I figured that was the exact type of thing that could end up in my local police blotter.

Instead, I tried separating the two by walking away while the other dog owner did absolutely nothing to help other than screaming, "BITSY! BITSY, NO! BAD BITSY!" as if Bitsy would magically listen upon hearing her name for the 15th time. One through 14 didn't do the trick, but hey, maybe 15 is the magic number. Yeah, don't bother running the few feet to come over and pick up your crazy freak dog.

But as I walked away, Toby was still spinning in circles, trying to continually face his opponent, and darted at just the right angle to slip out of his collar and make a mad dash down the street away from Bitsy the psycho biter.

Now that her adversary was out of her territory, Bitsy calmly walked back to her garage. I've never met a dog I didn't like, but part of me wanted to hold her up by the ears for awhile. Just for fun.

Instead, I had a rattled Toby on the run to deal with, not to mention cars passing by, and that stupid green lantern.

I opted to set the thing down and run after my dog. He was so shaken that I knew it wouldn't be easy. Plus, now the burly car guy and his friend decided to help. Right when I didn't need them to. They started running after Toby, causing him to run farther.

At this point, I also wanted to hang both men by their ears and, because of it, I ended up losing my temper. But I'm glad, because if I hadn't, I might have lost my dog. In a fit of semi-controlled rage I stopped, stared at the men and screamed, "Please stop! He won't come to you. You're not helping. Just stop."

Eventually I was able to call Toby to me, scooped him up and put his newly tightened collar around his neck. Then I had the option of walking back to the garage to retrieve the lantern or saying screw it.

I'm not sure what prompted me to go back. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was just to stare down Bitsy. Or maybe it was because I went through so much damn effort for that ugly green lantern that retreating to get it was a nonissue at that point.

After all that, I placed the hideous thing back on our porch, prompting a game with our neighbors I have titled Porch Plundering. The rules are simple: Anything stolen from each other's porch must remain on the other couple's porch in plain sight. It is simultaneously a trophy and an invitation for retribution.

So when I neared our house after a long walk yesterday afternoon and noticed our table was missing, I just bent over in hysterics. The lantern had been placed gently on one of the two porch chairs. But the table between them was gone. I just kept thinking, "Those fuckers took our table!" And it cracked me up into a fit of laughter for the rest of the day. I almost couldn't relay the story to Jerry because I was laughing so hard.

But we vowed to steal our table back and get our revenge by taking their porch swing, too.

Only I guess they didn't take our table. Jerry called them last night to congratulate them for their Porch Plundering prowess and Ben, in between crippling bouts of laughter, swore on his family's lives that he and his wife, Valerie, didn't take it.

Someone really stole our table.

But I'm not upset. I think our friends have a table on their porch. And that'll do for awhile.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

When the time comes, I think Jerry's officially ready for children

"Wha? ... Hmm? ... Everything okay?"

"Toby just puked on me."

"What?"

"Toby woke me up by crawling out from underneath the covers right by my head, then he puked on me. It's all in my hair."

"Wow. And you didn't even scream like it was a deadly toxic substance. I'm impressed."

Friday, January 12, 2007

eBay won the bid for my heart

Yep, eBay is totally awesome. And I haven't even earned any money yet.

The pre-sale rush is enough.

I've decided that eBay is a lot like a video game for women. A real-life shopping video game.

Throughout the day after posting eight items for sale, I found myself checking on occasion for activity. The site has a built-in tracker that displays how many people have viewed each item, and there's a spot for buyers to add the item to their list and get reminders of when the auction is ending. And, of course, they can also make a bid.

So when I saw that half of my items were being "tracked" and one had a bid, I was downright elated.

People like me! They really do!

Okay, well, they like my shoes -- and that's close enough in my book.

I had to call Jerry to share the good news.

"eBayistotallyawesome!"

"What?"

"eBayisawesome!"

"That's great honey!" (I'm pretty sure that's his stock answer for when I talk too fast in high-pitched tones, but it works, so I'm okay with that.)

"Four things are being watched and I have one bid already! So what if it's for the cheapest thing on there and I only asked $3.99 for it and I'm probably going to get hosed on the shipping? I'm learning and I'll get better, I know it!"

"Pennies make dollars," he said, which was the exact perfect thing to come out of his mouth at that moment. Pennies DO make dollars. And I will make a MILLION pennies on eBay and BE THE TOP SELLER IN THE WORLD!

Right. *cough* Anyway, if nothing else, it is fantastically empowering. It feels amazing to take control of your clutter, turn it around to your advantage and possibly make a little money with it.

And so what if I only earn $3.99 on my first shot?

Being indoctrinated into the eBay fold is worth much more than that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Jerry calls it my new addiction

At some point yesterday while digging through boxes that we had yet to unpack from our move (or what I like to call the Great Clutter Purge of 2007), I concocted a brilliant idea to prevent the useful items from collecting dust or ending up in a landfill: I'd sell them to people looking for that exact giant Pier 1 globe light, pair of Steve Madden sandals and vintage picture frames.

Then I remembered that January isn't an ideal month for garage sales. That and we don't have a garage.

So I sucked it up and gave in to the vortex auction site that is eBay, hoping to earn a little cash to help pay for hotels for the six weddings we have to attend this summer in lieu of a vacation. ... And new gutters for the house because rust keeps corroding new holes no matter how much I glare at them. ... Oh yeah, and a latch on the dishwasher broke, turning the door into a weapon that could fall open at any moment and bludgeon our dog to death. ... And, um, we still have a fridge without shelves.

And I know that selling a pair of shoes for $9.99 won't instantaneously cushion our bank account to the point of being able to afford any of those things, but it's $9.99 that we didn't have before. And when you combine that with the 0.0000001 cents it will earn when added to our savings account, well, WATCH OUT OPRAH! WE'RE STOPPING IN CHICAGO ON OUR WAY TO NEBRASKA IN SEPTEMBER! Woo hoo!

Ahem.

So when this inexperienced eBayer logged on, it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. How great is it to sell to the masses for a few cents a listing? But what if my stuff is deemed hideous in the online community? What if no one bids? What if I have the junkiest junk?

Then all of my suspicions were confirmed; eBay is no longer a giant yard sale. People do it to earn money. Every random search I typed in resulted in gleaming new items in their original packaging. Who is going to want my used, but in perfectly good working order, straightening iron?

Me. That's who. People like me who realize that I can go to any store to find new items without paying for shipping. The few things I've bought from eBay have been used items that I got for a steal.

So I started small and we'll see how it goes.

But part of me can see myself in the very near future selling anything not bolted down. And even then, bolts can be removed.

................................................................................................

But a girl does have to have limits.
Here are two things I found yesterday that I wouldn't ever sell:

P1012470_2
This signed promotional photo of Jerry's "best friend,"
WWE champ Batista from when they had lunch together.
Because Jerry would kill me. And, well, Batista's not bad
to look at. In fact, I might just hang him in the living room.


P1012471
And this bat that I found in the unfinished portion of our attic.
Yeah, it can stay there forever as far as I'm concerned.
Because I'm not touching it. Or anything around it ever again.
I guess it couldn't survive on decorative plastic apples.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Putting it in terms he understands

"The good news is that Oprah will be taping when we're in Chicago, and it's free to get in. The bad news is that you never know when the tickets become available, and we only have a two-day window. ... It might be tough."

"Oh Jer, we don't have to see Oprah on your birthday. That would completely suck for you. Just check for availability the next day. If it happens, it happens."

"If we can get tickets on my birthday, we're going. Oprah's like the Rolling Stones of black women, I get it."

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Maybe Annie had it right all along

I'm a pretty upbeat person -- some might even say obnoxiously so -- but every once in awhile I get into temporary funks where I just don't feel like myself.

While I normally have enough energy to catapault me through an entire day, I find myself feeling lethargic and listless. Instead of being outgoing and talkative, I turn inward. I don't feel any desire to interact with the people around me and would rather stay in the familiarity of my own home. More specifically, plopped on the couch, tucked away from the world under a blanket, succumbing to my "blahs."

But the blahs never happen on a day I have off from work. They usually happen when I have plenty of responsibilities I can't ignore, no matter how badly I'd like to. So I end up stumbling through, getting more and more frustrated when people with good intentions ask me what the problem is.

I have yet to figure out what triggers these days or how to deal with them other than focusing on tomorrow. As rediculous as it sounds, sometimes all it takes is the promise of another day. A better day. A day filled with more potential.

Because no matter how hard I fight the feeling by taking a walk with my four-legged buddy, indulging in an extra long shower, listening to my favorite mood-lifting music or climbing into an outfit that always makes me feel empowered, nothing seems to help. It's like a dark fog settles around me and won't let go.

Even life's little positives don't seem to give me the same satisfaction. Normally I'm the type to appreciate every little unexpected pleasentry or favor. Small things like finding out Jerry emptied the dishwasher or bought groceries can make my day. But not on these days. They barely even register. I have a feeling that not even a visit by the Prize Patrol informing me that I've won Publisher's Clearinghouse would do the trick.

So I just sort of focus on one small task at a time. I try not to let my mind wander too far because I end up feeling overwhelmed and small.

The relief comes when I finally make my way into bed. Because I know the day is over.

And a new one will begin soon.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It's hard to be a rock god without a red guitar

It probably goes without saying that I'm not much of a gamer, but to avoid any future misunderstandings, let me get it on record once and for all that video games elude me.

Sure, I get the concept. It's a highly intelligent program that you can entertain yourself with for hours trying to beat. I'm not completely out of the loop. I did play Tetris, Zelda, Duck Hunt and Super Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo. And don't get me started on Atari. Centipede was the best.

But that's about the extent of my knowledge.

So when Jerry asked for Guitar Hero II for Christmas, apparently I needed more instructions.

When standing in the electronics store, it honestly seemed silly to buy the package that came with another guitar. I mean, I got him the original game for his birthday. So, logically, you would assume that a second guitar was unnecessary.

Well, logic is wrong when it comes to electronics. Very wrong.

It took Jerry 0.2 seconds to ask where the guitar was when opening it Christmas morning. Because, well, the second guitar is red, not black like the first one. And it comes with different stickers. And it allows two people to form a band -- one plays lead and the other plays bass.

So I ruined Christmas (and the next two weeks of my life) by trying to think logically.

Because even though I promised that we'd go out the very next morning to exchange it for the complete version, it didn't help. He couldn't play with his new toy on Christmas. And when I suggested he try on his new sweater that I also got him and put his money in his new money clip, he looked at me like I was the least understanding woman alive.

And it didn't help that every electronics store in the region was sold out of the game. I literally visited 12 stores while Jerry was at work the next day, walking directly to an employee, asking if it was available and getting the same eye-roll response that suggested, "Are you KIDDING ME?"

Fortunately my mother-in-law came to the rescue when she found it at one of her favorite online shopping spots. She placed the order immediately, but it would take up to 10 days. Meanwhile, every one of Jerry's friends who received the correct version of the gift rubbed it in about how great the red guitar was, leaving him seething even more. And just for a little more salt in the wound, our nephew Nate enjoyed playing the first version at our house so much a few days after Christmas that he went out and bought the second version with some of his gift certificates.

So, yeah, Jerry could've had it sooner if we hadn't placed the order online.

The day it finally arrived was like Christmas all over again in Jerry's book. He was so thrilled to play the game that he lost track of time -- and our dog. He didn't realize Toby had locked himself into an upstairs room, ensuing a long and arduous search party around our neighborhood into the wee hours. But hey, we found our dog and he had the game, so all was right with the world.

Until that same dog broke the game the next day.

We had just gotten back from seeing a movie and Jerry beelined for his PlayStation while I went upstairs to change. As I was tugging on a pair of pajama pants, I heard shouts of, "NO! TOBY WAIT!" followed by a loud crash. Which I later understood to be the unit slamming to the ground after Toby thought he could hurtle through the wire connecting the red guitar to the game system.

I held my breath as a litany of expletives involuntarily flung their way out of Jerry's mouth. By the time I worked up the courage to go downstairs, he was screaming, "SCREW IT! I WAS JUST NOT MEANT TO HAVE THIS GAME! JESUS HATES ME AND HE DIDN'T WANT ME TO HAVE THIS FOR HIS BIRTHDAY! I DON'T EVEN WANT IT ANYMORE!"

But he did want it. He wanted it bad.

After cooling off, he tried rebooting the game. Ironically or becase Jesus hates him, I'm not sure which, everything works except for the actual concert action itself. He can create characters, scroll through songs, even do practice rehearsals ... but when it comes time to get into the actual game, the screen goes blank and the disk just sort of makes this loud chugging noise, whirring around violently in its holster.

So today, after sleeping off his depression, we will head out to buy the guitar-less version that I gave him for Christmas.

Maybe we'll even get the exact same disk.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Too bad the lights were off when Toby was stuck in there

P1012392

Jerry and I recently replaced the old light fixtures in the vanity that were better suited for a dressing room at a strip club. I finally uploaded all of our house renovation photos to one spot, so click on the picture above to see what six months of backbreaking labor looks like.

Friday, January 5, 2007

The two words that can make my world crumble

As soon as I picked up the phone, I could tell something was wrong. It took Jerry a minute to force the words out of his mouth.

"Toby's gone."

It came out sounding cracked and far away, but those two words echoed in my head continuously as it sunk in. Fortunately I was just finishing up at work. But instead of the usual goodbyes, I shot up from my chair, told Jerry I'd be home as soon as possible, grabbed my coat and purse, shouted some sort of quick explanation to my boss and literally sprinted for the door.

The drive home felt like the longest 12 minutes of my life. It should've taken me 20, but if there ever was a reason to disobey the speed limit, I figured this was it.

Every muscle in my body was tense as I sat bolt upright and clenched my fists around the wheel. In the silence of my car, I tried to come up with a plan, think of his favorite spots on our daily walks, what route to take, whether I should even bother stopping at home. Then I looked up and prayed.

A sense of calm washed over me as I took stock of all the things we had working in our favor. It was a little after midnight so there wouldn't be too many cars on the road in our small town. Jerry and I would have a lot of energy for at least a few hours. Plus, it hasn't been a typical January where the temperatures would test his small size. He could survive overnight. And my biggest relief was knowing that his collar contains all of our contact information, including a notice of a reward if he's spotted alone.

Then the doubts crept in.

It's late so no one will see him. What if he finds his way into the creek and drowns? What if a car hits him? What if we find him, but he's hurt? It takes an hour to get to our vet, would he survive that long? ... He's probably scared by now.

But I shook off all of the negative thoughts because I knew I needed to be levelheaded. I knew I couldn't let myself get worked up or I wouldn't be able to function. And that wouldn't help us get our dog back.

As I got into town, I rolled down my front two windows, cranked up the heat and slowly swept my headlights over the nearby park, continuously calling out his name as loud as my voice would allow me to. I doubted he would cross the train tracks to get to it because he's usually freaked out by the rails, but it's a nice big grassy space that he loves, so it was worth a shot.

Nothing.

I called Jerry for the fourth time as I slowly made my way back home, sweeping my eyes in all directions hoping for any sign of movement on the ground. Jerry was starting to lose it.

"We have to stay calm for Toby," I said over the phone. "Getting all worked up isn't going to help. It's not your fault -- get that out of your head right now. We can do this."

Jerry stayed on foot in the area around our house squeezing Toby's favorite squeaky toy as I crept up and down the surrounding blocks and alleys in my car, screaming out the window.

Nothing.

After deciding to widen our search area, I picked up Jerry and we each looked out our respective windows. As we drove, our voices echoing in the distance, we stirred every dog in the neighborhood into a barking frenzy. But none of them sounded like Toby.

I kept screaming until my vocal cords gave up and my voice grew hoarse. The burning at the back of my throat started to sink in and other parts of my body started to scream when I no longer could. My chest grew heavy, my legs felt numb and my heart literally hurt.

"How are you staying so calm?" Jerry asked quietly.

"I'm in complete denial," I said, ignoring my body giving up on me.

"Well I'm broken inside," he said. It came out sounding like a whisper. Then it hit me. That was exactly how I felt. Broken.

The tears flowed out in a steady stream and I tried hard to choke back my sobs, but I couldn't. I stopped the car in the middle of the street and gasped for breath.

Then Jerry became strong for me. "You were right, this won't help Toby. We can do this. You just drive and I'll yell."

I shoved those feelings away again and tried to call out, but the word "Toby" was too much. I couldn't say it anymore without sparking a flurry of emotion. So I just drove. We drove for more than an hour before I suggested we check at home again just in case he wandered back.

When we got there, I desperately needed a quick break to clear my head. We kept the car running as I sprinted inside to use the bathroom. The lack of Toby greeting me at the door almost sent me into another hysterical fit, but I kept on task and went upstairs.

And there, as I sat on the toilet, I swore I heard him whining. I felt absolutely delusional, but it sounded so close. So real.

When Jerry came upstairs to change out of his shorts and into pants, I confided what I had heard.

"This sounds completely crazy, but I think I just heard Toby whining. It was really nearby."

Then Jerry pushed open the only closed door upstairs, the one to the vanity, and Toby sprinted out, prancing and jumping at our feet.

We didn't question it at the moment, we just broke into tears of relief and slid to the floor. Jerry scooped Toby into his arms and I piled on top of them, laughing and crying and feeling so incredibly thankful for what I take for granted everyday.

After parking the car, silently apologizing to all the neighbors we woke up and reconvening on the couch, Jerry and I tried to figure out what happened.

Jerry swears he let Toby outside, but he probably just panicked when he couldn't find him. Meanwhile, Toby nudged his way into the vanity and the weighted door closed behind him.

Although I hope never to go through that again, it did teach me some valuable lessons. Today I plan to make a "missing" poster for Toby and have copies printed out and ready to go -- just in case. I'm also going to make an appointment to get an ID chip inserted into his neck, so we can prove he's our dog in the event someone decides that keeping him would be a reward in itself.

But above all that, I'm going to cherish every moment with Toby today. Because now I know what it would've felt like without him.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

A wake-up call

I know marriage, like all relationships, has its ups and downs, but usually I'm able to see the downs coming and can brace myself for the hard landing.

But Jerry and I had a disagreement last night that seemingly came out of nowhere. I felt completely caught off guard, and because of it, I found myself alone on the couch at 2 a.m. feeling very confused while trying to force myself to sleep.

That in itself was troubling. Jerry feels very strongly about the Never Go to Bed Angry Policy. But last night, for the first time ever, he allowed me to stomp away and didn't follow. And my pride and stubbornness wouldn't let me retreat.

From past experience, I've determined that most fights are evenly two-sided. Each person has some valid points, and when mixed in with all that built-up emotion, tension and exaggeration for emphasis, it takes a little time to hash it out. But after all the nasty words and maybe a few tears, you get to the core of the problem, finally see each other's point and agree to work on it.

But this fight wasn't two-sided. It was very clearly an issue I have to work on. And it's never good finding out that no matter how hard you try to cultivate your relationship, a simple bad habit might unknowingly be triggering the growth of a deep-seeded frustration you don't even know is there.

When I think about what we were arguing over, it seems so trivial and silly. And perhaps that's the whole problem; I'm taking it too lightly.

Most of my friends, family and coworkers know that I'm horrible with my cell phone. Sometimes its buried so deep in my cavernous purse that I don't even hear it ring. Other times I accidentally leave it on vibrate mode for days without even knowing it. But the end result is always the same: I rarely answer on the first ring, or call, or ever.

To top it off, the problem is exacerbated in our huge house. If I'm on the second floor and my phone is downstairs in the kitchen, I won't hear it. Then there are days like yesterday where I grab a coat out of my closet when I'm getting ready to leave the house, realize it's a little heavier than usual and surprisingly discover my phone has been in the right pocket since the night before. I laughed and thanked my good fortune for deciding to wear that coat two days in a row.

But meanwhile Jerry wasn't laughing. He had been trying to get in touch with me all afternoon about his monthly work schedule. When each of us only get one weekend off a month, we work really hard to ensure that those weekends match up. And in order to do that, he needed to know my schedule. But, as usual, I wasn't answering my phone.

And this wasn't the first time. Once Jerry had something so pressing to talk to me about that he actually called one of our friends who lives a few blocks away and asked him to walk over to tell me to call my husband. I was simply painting the kitchen and had the music cranked up. But I did feel like a complete asshole.

To solve the problem, Jerry has been demanding for months that we get a landline. But because we already have an outrageous cell bill, I just couldn't justify spending another $360 a year to put a line in the house, too.

Until last night, anyway.

Now Jerry has successfully enabled me to see where he's coming from. I would be hurt and angry and more than a little frustrated if he didn't answer when I called. Especially if it was something important.

So maybe spending another 30 bucks a month for a little piece of mind is worth it. I guess I needed a wake-up call.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Waiting for my heels to heal

Ladies, why do we kill ourselves trying to pull off fancy shoes that look fantastic but could double as terroristic torture devises?

I mean, those red heels might look killer with your butt-lifting black pants and boob-enhancing lacy tank, but there is absolutely nothing sexy about limping. If you can't sell those shoes with a power walk, there is absolutely no point in plunking down $79.95 for them.

And yet, if you're like me, you convince yourself in the store while you're trying them on that the little spot that's rubbing at your Achilles tendon will magically fix itself after you've walked around a bit. They just need to be broken in, that's all.

But it never works that way. Instead of your foot wearing down the leather to a perfect Cinderella fit, the leather wears down your foot creating a huge sore blister you can't ignore -- no matter how hard you try.

Every step is complete agony and you start to fantasize about slipping on a pair of orthopedics. But then you look down at those fabulous shoes and when you see how good they look and how good they make you feel emotionally, if not physically, you bite the bullet and somehow manage to climb that flight of stairs. Leaning heavily on the handrail, of course.

And when you get home, before taking your coat off, maybe even before you put your purse down, you rip those stinking shoes from your body -- in a slow and ginger motion as to not rip any more flesh off with them -- and the relief you feel as your bare foot hits the floor is so gratifying you let out a deep sigh. And at that moment, that sigh feels better than any orgasm possibly could.

Then you have a choice. You could be realistic and put those shoes exactly where they belong: in the trash. Or you could pretend you didn't just have the day from hell solely because of those shoes and place them lovingly back in your footwear repertoire. Just in case.

Yeah, just in case you get amnesia and forget that they started digesting your feet.

But as your feet heal, the sour memory of those shoes fades with it. And eventually you will be standing at your closet, wondering what to wear and those red heels will call out to you.

They did look perfect with black pants and that lacy top. Ooh! And they'd go great with that new red wrap sweater. Look! THEY'RE THE EXACT SAME SHADE! So amazing. ... They didn't hurt that bad, right?

And then the process starts all over again with the same end result. The shoes end up back in the closet instead of angrily hacked into bits and pureed in the garbage disposal where they belong.

So men, I tell you this: Lie. Tell us those shoes are the most fabulous things you've ever seen. (Yes, use the word "fabulous.") Gush about how good we look. Say things like "The shoes make the outfit." And when we secretly confide to you that our feet are killing us, don't tell us to throw them away because we never will. Sympathise. Offer foot rubs. (But don't worry, we won't accept because it would really hurt.)

Whatever you do, don't get angry. It won't solve anything. We won't change. And you might just end up with a heel in your eye. We are very protective about our footwear.

Because it's very possible those shoes will outlive you. Especially because we only wear them twice a year.

Jerryisms

While walking into a dilapidated dollar store as a last resort in search of noise makers:
"Mmm ... smells like savings."

While I was trying to wake him up this morning:
"I can't get up because I'm dreaming about Bette Midler's birthday party. ... I'm on the planning committee."

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Putting the crack in crackers

"Um, Kelly?" Jerry asked from the living room. "Did you put cheese on this tray?"

"The one with the crackers?" I yelled back from the kitchen.

"Yeah."

"Of course I did, what are you talking about?"

"Well, I figured you wouldn't have left it like this," Jerry said, walking into the kitchen carrying the square platter I had placed on the coffee table moments earlier. I had loaded it with a heaping pile of beefstick, crackers and cheddar. Now the plate's pattern was completely visible where the cheese had been. Only one or two slices remained.

"You've got to be kidding me."

In the two seconds it had taken me to walk from the living room back to the kitchen, Toby had horked down an entire 12-ounce block of white sharp cheddar.

"Oh, he's gonna puke," I said. "As soon as our friends get here and start eating, he's gonna puke on the rug right in front of everybody, I know it."

"Or maybe, if he times it right, he'll wait until midnight when the ball starts to drop," Jerry said, laughing. "The entire east coast will do a countdown to our dog's vomit."

Meanwhile, Toby was underneath us, refusing to blink while staring at what used to be the cheese tray, hopping on his back legs to get himself inches. closer. to the. cheese.

"He's gonna puke! Put him outside!"

Ironically, I had been feeling so sorry for his big watery eyes as he watched me prepare a feast for our guests, and he had been so good about not getting anywhere near the food, that I actually called him into the kitchen to give him a little sliver of cheese. If I could've heard his thoughts at that moment, he would've said, "Psh, you called me into the kitchen for this? THIS?! Please woman, there's a whole PILE of this stuff in the other room. Don't waste my time."

And now that our formerly well-behaved dog had enjoied a heaping sample of the magical treats propped on a table within his reach, it was like all his restraint went down his throat with the cheddar.

The rest of the night I batted him away from the food and chased him around the house when he was successfully able to latch onto something: Chex mix, Goldfish crackers that our friends brought for their daughter, even beefstick. At one point I actually saw him running around with a slice of yellow pepper from the vegetable tray like it was a big fat cigar hanging from his mouth.

And later, when I brought out the cookies, Toby somehow latched onto one topped with a Hershey kiss. To make it more of a fun game, he plopped down on the floor inches away from me, gnawing on it in pure bliss. But by the time I got it away from him, only a small chocolate stub remained.

Amazingly, he didn't puke. It must've been an ongoing test of wills: mouth vs. stomach. Unfortunately for Toby, he didn't realize his ass would be the loser.

Knowing that much cheese would bind up even the most fluid digestive system, we figured Toby wouldn't shit for weeks.

But he shocked us again by forcibly squeezing out a little coil that was black as coal the next day.

I just laughed and said, "Happy New Year, buddy. But I'm pretty sure you've eaten your entire cheese allotment for 2007."